Women’s Equality Day marks its 51st celebration on Aug, 26, 2022, after being established by Congress in 1971. Women’s Equality Day recognizes the 19th Amendment that technically granted women the right to vote with its ratification on Aug. 18, 1920.

Although the 19th Amendment provided access to voting regardless of gender, additional barriers existed –- such as poll taxes, literacy tests and harassment –- for women of color, immigrant women and women with low socio-economic status. Several laws created afterwards, including the Voting Rights of 1965, aimed to tackle the inequalities regarding voting access. 

As the college recognizes Women's Equality Day, the community remembers one of its most famous advocates for women’s rights: Dr. Mary Walker. Walker was known for advocating for equality for women and being expressive about her views, including how she presented herself. Walker was a dress reformer and was even president of the National Dress Reform Association in 1866. She wore pants style-bloomers as pictured above (photo courtesy of Penfield Library/SUNY Oswego Digital Library).

The only woman to win the Congressional Medal of Honor for her heroism on the battlefield during the Civil War, Walker wrote, “Men and women should enter into the social contract of marriage, as equal and life-long partners.”

Radical on more than the topics of dress reform and marriage, the surgeon, women’s rights advocate, abolitionist and spy further proposed:

“The time is not distant when women as wives, and mothers, and sisters, will be equal with men in all the social, and political relations of life; and then men themselves will be astonished that they could have opposed what was really for their own interest, as well as that of women.”

Today the college acknowledges Dr. Walker and so many more women before, during and after her time, who have made many efforts to establish an equal and equitable society for women. Their stories remind everybody how hard women have fought and how far women have come. Both progress and opportunity for growth in society exist, with the campus community encouraged to continue making society better. 

Here are a few upcoming dates to consider regarding equality for women: 

  • International Equal Pay Day - Sept. 25 
  • Black Women’s Equal Pay Day - Sept. 28 
  • Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day - Nov. 30 
  • Latina’s Equal Pay Day - Dec. 8

Did You Know? SUNY Oswego’s Health Center and Counseling Services Center are housed in the Mary Walker Health Center. 

-- Submitted by the James A. Triandiflou Institute for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Transformative Practice


  1. Dr. Mary E. Walker (n.d.) . The Town of Oswego. Retrieved August 11, 2022 from https://townofoswego.com/dr-walker/
  2. Dr. Mary E. Walker [Photograph]. (1865). State University of New York at Oswego. http://digitallibrary.oswego.edu/PPPH000449/00001?search=dr.+=mary+=walker
  3. Dr. Mary Edwards Walker Bibliography (2022, April 25). State University of New York: Penfield Library. Retrieved August 11, 2022, from https://libraryguides.oswego.edu/marywalker 
  4.   Walker. (2003). Hit : essays on women’s rights. Humanity Books.

Women’s Equality Day Resources (n.d.). National Women’s History Alliance. Retrieved August 11, 2022